The thermoplastic material (outdated polyethylene, abbreviation PE) was discovered as early as 1898, but only since 1957 has it been used commercially in large quantities, mainly in pipelines for gas and water supply, for cable insulation and in packaging materials. It is a saturated hydrocarbon. At around 30%, PE is the most widely produced plastic in the world. In addition to pure PE, there are the materials PE-LD, PE-LLD, PE-HD, PE-UHMW and PE-X in combination with other materials. PE becomes brittle when exposed to sunlight, but is not broken down by bacteria, animals or plants. If not disposed of properly as "plastic waste", it therefore contributes greatly to environmental pollution.